Sunday, December 27, 2009


Our cutie laughed. Seriously, he laughed. Haha--haha. Like that. My sweetie had said he'd heard him laugh the other day, but he wasn't sure if it really was a laugh, but today we both heard it, several times in a row. While his was grinning from ear to ear. He used to squeal in this mood; today he laughed. It was pretty exciting!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The line between fiction and reality

As I've mentioned, I've been reading a fair bit lately, more than I have in a long time. This is because there are several periods a day when I have to sit in a chair and feed the baby, and the only thing to do during these times is read (well, or nod off, if it's a 2:00 am feeding!). At the moment, I am on a sci-fi kick: I am alternately rereading Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan series and reading Orson Scott Card's Ender series for the first time. I think the latter is more serious in its themes, but the former is a damned good read.

Anyway, as a result, I am spending more time with books, particularly fiction, than I have in a long time, and since I am not working, the only person I talk to regularly is my sweetie. This has resulted in the characters I read about being rather more real to me than they might otherwise be. To the point where I start to think about their lives outside of what's written in the books.

For example:
Do you think Anne Blythe (nee Shirley) breastfed her six kids? I think she must have, but do you think she had trouble with it? Did Gilbert, as a doctor, have advice for her, or did he stay out of the way?


I wonder if Miles Vorkosigan, in addition to his well documented medical problems, also had cradle cap?

Yeah: I need to get out more, in more ways than one....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday baking

Every year I bake cookies for presents for our neighbors. This year, as my overly social husband continues to make friends, that means 14 houses. In the year I have a baby and can't bake like a factory. SIGH.

Normally I bake four kinds of cookies. I did actually bake four kinds this year, too, but two of them were disasters. OK, one was a disaster (ironically, the only one I'd made before) and one was just so utterly boring I didn't think it was gift-worthy. So, it's just two kinds this year :-).

On the left are Maida Heatter's Gingerful Biscotti, from her Brand-New Book of Great Cookies ((c) 1995--so, out of print and no longer brand-new), later reprinted in Maida Heatter's Cookies ((c) 1997 and also now out of print). These are delicious, the big winners this year, easy to make and definitely worth making again. That's saying a lot, because I have thousands of cookie recipes in my house (so not exaggerating there), and not many get made more than once, since I'm always looking for something new.

On the right are what ended up being my version of a Sno Ball, a snack I occasionally crave even though I fully acknowledge they are plastic and gross. My version is a bittersweet brownie base (I took the recipe from Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies, but any reasonably dark, sturdy (not cakey) brownie will do), baked a bit thinner than called for in the recipe, topped with the toasted coconut marshmallows from this month's Cooking Light. These are pretty tasty, though I didn't sample them extensively since I barely have enough to cover the 14 houses. Making marshmallows from scratch, something I've wanted to try for several years now, is reasonably easy but has a lot of steps; I don't know that I'll do it again. Maybe as a treat for my son when he's old enough to love hot cocoa.

Speaking of cooking light, these aren't bad: only the brownies have any butter in them. The marshmallows have coconut, and the biscotti have eggs and almonds, but overall these are way down on the fat scale for me. I laid in two pounds of butter for this cookie bake off and barely made a dent in the first pound.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


We are in the midst of a sleep experiment.

This is our cutie a week ago, after he had his first shots. Three shots, in the thighs, and he slept for 7 hours in the afternoon, like a log. He continued to sleep through the night, much more than usual the next day, and then everything started to fall apart.

Thursday night, he slept poorly, Friday night and Saturday nights not at all, but slept like log Saturday during the day. Very frustrating. By Sunday morning we were at our wits' end, and decided it was time to try Crying It Out.

Much controversy surrounds crying it out, and the younger you do it, the more controversy is involved. But none of us was sleeping (though our cutie slept Saturday day, he did not sleep Sunday during the day: one day of sleep out of five days and nights does not a healthy sleep habit make), so we had to take some action.

All the sleep books direct you to put the baby to bed drowsy, but awake. We had not been doing this: we would rock the baby to sleep, then put him in the crib. So the first step was to stop doing this.

After putting the baby down drowsy but awake, sleep books diverge, based on their philosophy towards Crying It Out. Some books tell you that letting your baby cry it out will teach him that he can't trust you, that there's no point in crying if he's hungry or hurt, because no one will answer. They tell you that he'll be needy and anxious his whole life because he won't be sure of his parents' love.

Other books tell you that babies need to learn to soothe themselves, and that will involve some crying. If they don't learn how to do it, they will be lousy sleepers their whole lives. My sweetie's cousin, at 25, is still a lousy sleeper, and she blames her mother for always rocking her to sleep. Her two younger siblings were allowed to cry, and they can sleep through a tornado.

(As a side note--do you detect a theme? Anything you do will affect your child for the rest of his life. No pressure.)

Anyway, we chose to let him cry, going in after a certain amount of time to reassure him that we were still there, and he was not alone. The first night, after some struggle (boy, is it hard to listen to him cry!), he fell asleep and slept--no joke--for eight hours. Last night he did it again. And, since good night sleep promotes daytime naps and vice versa (yes, sleep begets sleep--don't ask me why), he has been starting to take longer naps during the day.

Well. I hate to think he thinks I can't be trusted and that I don't love him, but I sure am glad that he (and we) are getting real sleep at last. Fingers crossed that the trend continues!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Home in one piece

We took our cutie on his first cross-country plane ride for Thanksgiving. My sweetie's family lives on Long Island, NY, so we took a trip to visit and introduce the cutie to his great-grandmother, great-aunts and -uncles, regular aunt and uncle, first cousins once removed, and second cousins. And, of course, the grandparents, whom he's met before.

It was not a bad trip. Our cutie was very good on the plane ride east (a red-eye); for the most part, he slept. It was harder on us, because you can't sleep while holding a baby: you might drop him. And our arms got very tired. I thought that at home he never lets me put him down, but apparently I do get a break every now and then, because even sharing the duty with my sweetie on the six-hour flight, my arms were tired. Or maybe it was the combination of holding him and being jammed into a cramped window seat on a very HOT plane.

During the visit (12 days long!), the cutie charmed everyone with constant cooing and smiling. Everyone agreed that he was the smartest, most advanced baby ever. While my rational mind takes this with a grain of salt, my mama mind is very proud. We also discovered, via a trip to a pediatrician (it turned out to be a blocked tear duct--nothing serious), that our cutie now weighs 12 lbs.

This is noteworthy because that visit to the Long Island doctor occurred on November 23, a mere 21 days after his one month appointment with his Seattle doctor. This means that in 21 days, he gained 1 lb, 10 oz. I'm kind of terrified to hear what he weighs at his two month appointment this week!

Despite the trip to the doctor, our cutie made it through with flying colors. I had been so nervous about exposing him to germs on the plane and among the relatives that I got an H1N1 vaccine before I left. I do not usually get a flu shot, but he's too young for the vaccine, so my getting it became my sort of talisman against him catching anything. Apparently, it worked: we've been home five days and he's still healthy. I think any sickness he shows now would be home grown.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


The cutie has turned me into a morning person.

He has a fairly predictable nighttime schedule (though now that I've said that, he will probably deviate from it tonight): He goes to sleep some time between 10 and 11 pm; wakes up for a feeding around 2-3 am, for a second feeding 5-6 am, and then up for the day 8-9 am.

I used to go back to bed after the 5-6 am feed, to get a couple more precious hours of sleep, but lately I've been finding myself getting up, so that I can take a shower, eat breakfast, surf the web, and have (whispered) conversations with my sweetie that do not focus on the baby and his bodily functions. It's ridiculously luxurious.

I'm not the only one who enjoys my sweetie's company: I am slowly developing the theory that our cutie likes his dad more than me. Yesterday, and last Monday, he cried all afternoon, which at this point is somewhat unusual for him. Then my sweetie came home, and the moment he walked in the door, the baby stopped crying. It's enough to give a mom a complex. SIGH.

Anyway, here are some pics of our cutie, looking ever cuter:

"Let go o' ny liff! Let go o' ny liff!"

The requisite "naked baby" picture--he'd have been fully naked, but he started peeing when I was taking the picture :-)

Definitely smiling! (Note shirt with wishful-thinking printing.)

And finally, a shot of our cutie wearing a one-piece I knit for him, out of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. I'm pretty proud of it, since I made up the pattern myself. The closures on the front and at the crotch are closed with sewn-on snap tape (a first for me, since I think knitting and sewing do not mix well; I did cheat and sew it on by hand: no running the knitting through the sewing machine for me!). And I actually managed to finish it before he was too big for it; quite a feat when you have a baby and cannot knit one-handed.

Of course, I've heard many stories of kids who refuse to wear hand knits. The cool stuff is bought in a store. So I thought I would get in a few hand knits while he is still too young to protest.

Obviously I was wrong about the protesting bit :-).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quick post while the baby's napping

Believe it or not, he's napping. In his bassinet. He's been doing this for about four days. Each nap lasts about 1/2 an hour, and I treasure every minute of free arms.

Anyway, I've been reading a lot, usually while feeding him, but I've been rereading children's books from my youth. I guess I haven't had a lot of mental energy, and rereading children's books requires very little effort. Plus, you know, I only get to read in ten-minute increments, which is not at all my preferred method of reading, so it's good when I already know what's going to happen. I've reread a number of Anne of Green Gables books (though not ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, which is actually my least favorite of the series), I've reread A LITTLE PRINCESS and THE SECRET GARDEN (finally figured out why I always liked the latter less than the former: it's because I really don't like and don't care about Colin, and his story hijacks the book).

However, this week I read a new book, HOLES, by Louis Sachar, which will probably become a classic children's book itself. I will certainly buy a copy for my son when he's old enough. I really, really liked it. And, I have to say, it made me appreciate anew that children's books are tough to write. I know every celebrity is doing it, but you know what? HOLES is as interesting, well-written, and complex, both stylistically and character-wise, as many adult books. It surprised me. I'm still thinking about it.

Whoops, there he goes; my 1/2 hour is up!

Monday, November 02, 2009


Our cutie's first Halloween was a success:

OK, he didn't care, but we enjoyed ourselves :-).

Today he had his one-month appointment with the doctor. He is now 10 lbs, 6 oz. He also shocked all of us (including the doctor) by rolling over during the appointment. The doctor had him lying on his stomach on the examining table, she was commenting on how strong he is (he can lift his head and hold it up for quite a while), when all of a sudden, he just rolled himself right over onto his back. He may not do it again for a month or two, but we were pretty darned impressed, and convinced we have the smartest, strongest baby ever born :-).

Now if only he would sleep.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

One month old

It's a disgusting mess we come through to be born, the sticky-wet of blood and afterbirth, mother wailing, child crying...the helpless soft spot at the top of its head pulsing, waiting to be kissed. Our parents and teachers say it's a miracle, but it's not. It's going to happen no matter what, there's no choice in the matter. To my mind, a miracle is something that could go one way or another. The fact that something happens, when by all rights it shouldn't, is what makes us take notice, it's what saints are made of, it takes the breath away. How a mother comes to love her child, her caring for this thing that's made her heavy, lopsided and slow, this thing that made her wish she were dead...that's the miracle.
--From The Birth House, by Ami McKay

I haven't finished reading The Birth House, and at the rate I'm going, I probably never will (I started it while I was still pregnant, and I'm on page 25), but this passage struck me really hard while I was waiting...and waiting...and waiting for him to come. It's resonated even more as our cutie hits one month old, and has spent the last week crying all night. Either my sweetie or I has threatened to throw him out the window at least once, if not multiple times, every night for the last week, usually at 2 or 3 in the morning, after he's been crying for hours and refusing to be put down. Yet morning comes and he's still with us, and we still think he's awfully cute and lovable. We're idiots, but that's probably hard-wired, hunh? It's got to be, or I think the human race would have died out long ago. So I guess it's not a miracle: we're slaves to our genetic compulsion to Not Kill the Baby.

By all reports (from friends who are already parents and laugh at our difficulties) it's going to be months yet before this stops. Last night we actually broke down and brought him into our bed with us, but this only worked for a short while; once he woke up, he couldn't be soothed even in bed. I ended up having to sleep with him in the recliner. Forget the bassinet--even if he's put down asleep, within half an hour (usually within ten minutes), he's awake and crying. I can take this during the day, but at night it's really, really trying. We were spoiled by three and a half weeks of relatively good sleep--he'd go down for a couple three- or four-hour blocks per night--so being up all night now is especially difficult in comparison.

I confess I have occasionally thought that the only thing stopping me from giving him up for adoption is that the grandparents already know about him, so it would be difficult to explain.

Monday, October 26, 2009

He's a charmer

So, I know our cutie is not supposed to be able to smile just yet, but doesn't he look like he is?

Here he is on our daily walk. A nice walk is one of the more reliable ways to keep him from crying. Today it rained a lot, but we took the opportunity of a break in the rain to walk to the local cafe (what Seattlites we are!). He seems to like looking at the passing scenery.

Finally, the other night as I was feeding him at 3:00 am, I realized something.

My son has hair like Linus van Pelt's.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The scale

I know I am not supposed to be obsessing about it, and I really am not, but yesterday, just out of curiosity, I got on the scale. To my complete astonishment, I have lost at least 35 pounds by having a nearly 10-pound baby. I say "at least" 35 pounds, because I don't actually know what my final pre-birth weight was, since I decided in the last weeks that it was best to live in ignorance.

I'm pretty happy about this, though I want to know why I still can't fit into any of my normal pants. That includes the size 12's I bought way back at the beginning before I gave in and got maternity pants. Heck, even some of the maternity pants I bought early on and eventually had to give up as I got huger are still uncomfortable. My only explanation is that, while I am only about 15 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, my body shape has changed considerably. That is: all 15 pounds are in my belly. SIGH. I've got to start going to Pilates again. I never thought I'd say it (because who knew I'd ever have them to miss), but I miss my abs!

Our cutie continues to be cute, which is a good thing because I'm about ready to defenestrate him (hey, I wanted to use the word :-). I thought I was prepared for the sleep deprivation, but I didn't fully appreciate the mental exhaustion involved in listening to constant crying and being unable to stop it. I am newly impressed with stay-at-home moms; I don't know that I will be able to do it. I know working moms are typically called supermoms, but they're total pansies, if this is what they're leaving at home with the nanny.

We did go for a nice walk today, in the lovely autumnal sunshine. He seemed to like that, at least :-).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maternal myopia

Here's a picture of our cutie in one of his matching outfits:

OK, I admit it's totally a cheat since it's a one piece, but hey, he's a Houdini when it comes to getting out of socks, so I love the footed one-pieces :-).

This pic does show his current greatest trick: being awake without crying. This is new in the last three days, and we love it. He is also not wearing mitts because I finally got up the courage to cut his fingernails, which were like little needles. No, I did not nick any of his fingers, so I was very proud of myself.

I haven't taken a huge number of pictures of our cutie, because the pictures I've taken have kind of disappointed me. They do not show how cute he is :-). I realized yesterday, though, that part of the problem is that they do not show him the way I see him: that is, at a distance of about 8-10 inches (and through a maternal hormonal fog, but that's another story). When I'm feeding him, or he's lying on my chest or my lap, that's when I think he is about as cute as it is possible to be, and you really can't take that picture. The camera can't get that close and still show his whole face or body. I will have to start experimenting to see what I can do about this. In the meantime, here's a first attempt, a shot of him sleeping on my lap (he does not like to nap in a crib):

Sigh. He's just too cute!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Control freak

So, since the birth of our cutie, we've had family in town. First, my mom was here, from before he was born, until about five days after, when my sweetie's parents came. They are leaving tomorrow, and my mom will then be back for another week. All in all, we will have had guests/help for the first three weeks of the baby's life.

For the most part, it's been great. I have been recovering pretty well, but like all new parents, we're still pretty sleep-deprived, so having help on hand is really nice. And my mom and mother-in-law cook dinner every night, which is about as great as you might imagine. Both women also vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, and generally kept the place looking presentable and not like a baby bomb hit it. All much appreciated.

But I have surprised myself in one area, and that is laundry. Mind you, I hate doing laundry. When I lived by myself, I would build up a truly shocking amount of laundry--a good three or four weeks' worth, then haul it down to my building's laundry room, take up five machines, and wash it all at once, just to get it over with as quickly as possible. In our house, where we have only one machine, I do a load here, a load there, but typically only when absolutely forced to by my husband's lack of underwear (I never run out of underwear since, after all, I have three or four weeks' worth :-). Heck, as often as not, my sweetie will do the laundry in order to have clean underwear.

With a baby, there is a lot of laundry to be done. He is 12 days old today, and I'd say we've already done at least three loads of purely baby laundry. Plus plenty of parental spit/pooed/peed-on laundry.

Laundry is something I am not allowed to do--the machines are downstairs, and I am forbidden to use the stairs, both by my mother, who says Chinese tradition dictates I am not use stairs or do anything for a month, and by my doctor, who says I can climb stairs but not while carrying anything. I hate doing laundry, and my mom and mother-in-law have been doing it for me. And what do you know? I've completely surprised myself by hating allowing other people to do my laundry. Of all things, this would not be the one I would have expected. I am somewhat territorial about my kitchen, and so I would have thought I wouldn't like to be cooked for, but in fact every meal that appears before me with no effort on my part is a thing of beauty, and if things get put back in the wrong place, I don't care. I usually don't like people cleaning my house and moving stuff around, but I don't even bat an eye.

But laundry? I can't stand it. They don't do it right! They use the wrong detergent, or they don't sort it the way I would, or they don't put it back where it belongs, or they lose socks or mitts, or who knows what. It drives me completely crazy. Who'd'a thunk it? I'm a laundry control freak. I actually went downstairs, risking wrath of mom and doctor and sweetie, and did a load today because I didn't want anyone else to do it and it needed to be done.

No one is more surprised by this than me. When I was in college, I used to wonder why all mothers seemed to be clean-obsessed, when not all women are. I thought maybe some weird hormonal thing kicks in, and you just become clean. If I'm scrubbing floors in a month, you'll know: I've gone over the deep end.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

True Birth Story

So, those of you who guessed that blog silence = baby were correct: our adorable son was born on Thursday, October 1, surprising the heck out of me that he didn't wait to be ejected by force, though he still required medical intervention to make his way out.

Here is his True Birth Story:

Somewhere around midnight on Wednesday, I started feeling contractions. I had felt "false" contractions before, but there was something about these that felt different--they were more painful, I guess--so I got up. Around 2:00 I started timing them, and by 4:45 they were coming every 4-5 minutes, lasting anywhere from 45 seconds to 1:20, and had been doing so since about 4:00. They tell you to call once your contractions are 5 minutes apart, 1 minute in duration, and have been so for one hour. So, I jumped the gun a little, and called my doctor's office.

The doctor on call said I could either go to the hospital and have them check me out, and if I wasn't very far along they might send me home or have me walk around a bit before checking me in, or I could wait until the contractions got "more intense" and regular, then come in. By about 5:00, I thought, "Well, gee, they feel pretty intense to me, and I'd rather know what's going on than not" so I woke up my sweetie. He was mighty annoyed I had let him sleep all night! I told him he had time to take a shower and have some breakfast--I even made the coffee (which is my sweetie's favorite part of the story). Then we woke my mom and got on our way to the hospital.

We got there about 6:30 am, and by that time the contractions were really starting to hurt. We got to labor triage, they checked me in, then examined me, and what do you know? I was already dilated to 7-8 cm. The nurse later told my sweetie they were amazed I had walked in under my own power. She asked me if I wanted an epidural and I screamed, "Yes!"

It took maybe another 45 minutes before I got the epidural, and they were not the proudest minutes of my life, even if they were maybe the longest. I can only say, wow, those contractions hurt. I really started to panic a little, thinking there was no way I could do this, it was way too painful. But they finally got the needle in, and let me tell you, the difference was amazing. I couldn't feel the contractions at all, yet I could still feel my body. It's some kind of weird voodoo. Creepy.

Since I was already at 7-8 cm, everyone thought the delivery would be quick, but we pretty much just stalled after that. The baby was in the wrong position (sunny-side up), and the usual things they do to try to get him to turn were not working because every time I changed position his heart rate decelerated. They gave me some pitocin to try to make the contractions more productive, but they could only increase the dose so much before his heart rate objected. He was a very particular baby!

Finally about 5:00 pm or so, they decided I needed a c-section, so off we went. Our son was born at 5:23 pm, weighed 9 pounds, 6.5 ounces, and measured 21 inches. It turns out when they opened me up, they saw that in addition to being the wrong way up, he was trying to come out the wrong way (over my pubic bone instead of under), so there was no way I could have pushed him out on my own. As my sweetie said, "You can tell he's my kid: always going the wrong way."

The weirdest thing about the whole experience for me was that I was incredibly sleepy all day--maybe because I had been up all night the night before, maybe because of the drugs they gave me, but during labor, I would doze off between contractions, and during the c-section I could not stay awake to save my life. I was dimly aware of things going on, I could feel them doing things to my body (no pain, but I could definitely feel pressure and movement), and I heard the baby's first cries and heard everyone saying how big he was and how cute he was, but I could not wake up. For this picture, I forced my eyes open, but I cannot say I really saw him:

I feel a little sad that I essentially slept through my son's birth, but the days since have been sufficiently intense that I don't feel I missed too much :-).

Here he is in the bassinet in our hospital room the next day (they no longer take the baby from you unless you specifically ask them to--more on that in a later post, maybe).

And at home:

I am SO HAPPY to not be pregnant any more! And I love having my cutie in my life, even though he has been quite a handful so far. But he is amazingly cute, even though, whatever anyone says, he doesn't look like either my sweetie or me. Recovery from the c-section has so far been painful but not problematic, and since I never got to push since he never descended that far, recovery "down there" has been pretty much unnecessary. We've already had our first pediatrician appointment and have been told that we are successfully not killing him, so we feel pretty proud. Only a couple decades to go!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

+ 4 Days (5 Days)

Well, maybe the list yesterday helped, but I am feeling better today. Either that, or it's because I slept until 9:45 this morning (10+ hours of sleep...mmmmmmm :-).

I've sort of resigned myself to the idea that this baby isn't coming until modern medicine intervenes on Sunday. This has freed me up to run errands, work on curtains (2nd panel done; two to go), knit (the Ribby Cardi is one sleeve, front bands, and a collar from being done) and generally ignore the fact that I am pregnant, as much as I can. Everyone keeps telling me not to wander too far from home, just in case, but I figure if the baby's not coming 'til Sunday, I have nothing to worry about.

Yesterday was cold--and I discovered that I cannot zip my jacket any more. This was a shock to me, as I believe as little as two weeks ago I managed to zip it, and now it is too small by a lot--at least two inches. This kid is going to be huge. My maternity clothes are starting to be too short to cover my belly. I told him that if he doesn't come out soon, we are both going to freeze to death, because I am NOT buying a new coat!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

+ 3 Days (6 Days)

You know, I'm kind of amazed that we don't regularly hear stories on the news of very pregnant women going on killing sprees or stabbing themselves in the stomach with butcher knives just to have it over with. I'm not there, but I can kind of see how you could get there, if you were just a leeeeeettle more psychotic. Out of the millions of women pregnant on any given day, I'm amazed it doesn't happen.

I'm not joking.

So, I decided I better make a list of good things about this pregnancy, just as a reminder. In no particular order, consider this my List of Reasons Not to Be Mad at the Baby:

  • I threw up only once in the entire nine months, and I believe that was actually food-related, not pregnancy-related.
  • I have had various aches and pains, but no excruciating constant back, hip or leg pain.
  • I have not been confined to bed rest for any period of time.
  • My hands and feet have swollen, but not to the point where I can't wear my shoes or have debilitating carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Though I get up during the night four or five times, generally I do not have trouble getting back to sleep.
  • I don't have gestational diabetes, despite having eaten (and continuing to eat) way more sweets than is good for me.
  • Despite being really old (39), I had no trouble getting pregnant, and the pregnancy has been pretty complication-free (one trip to the emergency room notwithstanding).
  • I do not have any stretch marks (knock wood).
  • My belly button is still an innie.
  • The baby has been really good: he moves around, he looks healthy, he grows predictably, and he has generally never given me reason to worry. Even the trip to emergency room was about me; once we got a look at him, it was clear he continued to be happy as a clam. So happy, I guess, that he sees no reason to change things.
There, see? Maternal serenity achieved, even if only for about ten minutes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

+ 2 Days (7 Days)

So, in an effort to keep from being angry with my son before he is even born, today I spent a few hours making a curtain for his room. The baby's room has some plain curtains in it, but we've been wanting to have some cute curtains instead. Cute curtains are hard to find--if you look for kids' curtains, mostly what you'll find is either licensed character stuff (Disney et al.) or just valances. I think valances are dumb.

So, I thought I would make some, but cute fabric is also tough to find, as much of it is pastel or flannel or just way too cutesy (which is not the same as cute!). But today, armed with a single item 50% off coupon, I went into Jo-Ann's and found some stuff I liked, and which I think my sweetie will like (we have, in this as in everything, very different tastes).

I also bought some blackout lining fabric so that the curtains will keep the room nice and dark. My sweetie thinks this will help the baby sleep; I have my doubts.

The baby's room has two windows, and therefore will need four panels. I managed to make one panel today before my needle broke; now I need to go back to Jo-Ann's and buy a needle. I was kind of amazed that the one panel took several hours to construct, but I was being unusually meticulous, as I wanted the blackout liner to hang well. It looks pretty nice, if I do say so myself.

My sweetie has accused me of nesting. I am not so sure. If I have the baby tonight or tomorrow, I will concede that maybe I was nesting. Otherwise, I was just really bored.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

+ 1 Day (8 Days)

In "The Story of Rowsby Woof and the Fairy Wogdog," a tale-within-a-tale in one of my favorite books, Watership Down, Rowsby Woof says to El-ahrairah and Rabscuttle, "Dirty little beasts!...Get out--out! Out--out!"

That's how I'm feeling right now.

Every time the kid kicks me, I think, "Stop kicking me and get the hell out!" Every time I get a pain or a cramp or a gas bubble, I think, "If it isn't a contraction, then don't bother me!"

I realize he is technically only one day (OK, 30 minutes) late, and I realize (hope!) that once he gets here, it won't matter a whit that he was late, but right now, this minute, I am feeling really angry and resentful.

I'm tired of being nothing but an incubator. No one is interested in me for any other reason, and that includes myself. Various people check in every few days to find out if the baby has come, as if we would somehow forget to mention it. My mother arrived on Friday, and as I feared, we have spent the last day and a half sitting around staring at each other, bored out of our skulls, waiting. People make jokes about giant babies and tell me stories about women they know who were weeks late, and I grin and say it could be worse, and inside I think, "I am going to the f--king hospital and having this thing cut out of me if it's the last thing I f--king do." I've heard all kinds of theories on what might bring on labor, none of which have any real proof behind them, and I am wondering if simple seething rage will have sufficient psychosomatic effect to get it moving.

Maybe that's the secret: labor is really just a giant temper tantrum where you are finally fed up enough that you eject the baby out of pure fury. I suspect I am going to be one of those women who spends the entire experience cursing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2 Days (11 Days)

Well, I did try some spicy Indian food last night, but all it did was make the baby jump around a lot. SIGH.

Saw the doctor this morning. She says I am further along than last week, but still not about to pop. She said she cannot strip my membranes because my cervix is still too far back. But the baby does appear to be in the correct position for birth (his back to my front).

But the basic upshot is, I can't have the baby without contractions, so until I have them, we're just waiting around. Going nuts.

On the bright side, she's put me on the schedule to be induced. She can't induce me until I am one week past my due date, which will be October 3. So on Sunday, October 4, if I still haven't had the baby, she'll give me a ripening agent (softens the cervix) which, given where I am now, she thinks will be enough to bring on labor. If not, then on Monday, October 5, she'll induce me.

So, either way, this will be over in 11 days. Maybe I should change my count, 'cause there is no way this baby is coming without encouragement. Just what we need in this family, another procrastinator.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rituals to make the baby come

Since jumping up and down for several hours a day does not seem to be working, I am trying other methods for moving this baby along:

I've packed a hospital bag, and put it next to the door. Yeah, I don't think this is going to be very effective, so I've also done this:

This is Chic Knits' Ribby Cardi, and I am already 12 inches into the body (started Sunday night). I have calmly informed the kid that I fully intend to finish the sweater before he shows up.

I am knitting it for myself, which I acknowledge is a bad idea, since I have no idea what size I am going to be, but there you are. It also calls for putting in a zipper, which intimidates me. Plus, I am using yarn from a neighbor's destash (ie, she was getting rid of yarn; I acquired sufficient yarn from this that I had to buy a whole new bin to house it), and am not positive I have enough. With all these roadblocks, finishing the sweater before the baby comes is going to be a challenge, but I am going to do it. Unless he himself decides to thwart me, of course (hint, hint!).

My sweetie has done me one better: he's bought a kayak (read: he's invested a lot of money in making the baby come), and we're supposed to pick it up tonight. If this doesn't make the baby come today, he is just hopelessly stubborn.

Finally, on a totally unrelated note, a picture for my friend Shirley:

The neighbor's kid put up a homemade bird feeder made from a milk carton. This was about fifteen minutes later.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

4 Days

It's 5:00 am, and I've been awake since 3:30. This is because when I got up at 3:30 to go pee, it was the fourth time I had gotten up tonight, and I couldn't go back to sleep. My shoulder hurt from sleeping on my side for who knows how many months (I am naturally a stomach sleeper. You side sleepers--what the hell do you do with your shoulders when sleeping on your sides? My shoulder always curls under, which makes it hurt), so I couldn't get comfortable, and in 20 minutes I needed to pee again, so I just gave up.

Not to get all political, but as I've gone through this pregnancy, I've really wondered how anyone could experience the process and still believe in intelligent design. Design, OK, maybe, but intelligent design? No freaking way.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

9 Days

Went to the doctor this morning, and had the following conversation:

Me: I was going to tell you I haven't felt him very much in the last day or so, but then on the way here I felt him, so I am less worried.
Dr: You won't feel him as much now, but you should still feel him every day.

Later, while she's using the doppler (a sort of sonar device she uses to listen to the baby's heartbeat):

Dr: He has a nice acceleration when he moves.
Me: What does that mean?
Dr: I'm watching him move, and when the baby moves, he should have a slight acceleration in the heartbeat.
Me: (Extremely puzzled expression--we're not using an ultrasound)
Dr: Oh, I can see him moving around [note: from the outside]. Do you not feel that?
Me: No, I don't.
Dr: Well, that's pretty common. At this point your belly is so stretched out that your nerves just kind of give up. You might have to actually use your hands and press down from the outside to feel him move.

So, it's official: my nerves have given up. Did I mention that I call the baby "The Parasite"?

Anyway, I am 2-3 cm dilated, but still have a ways to go on the "thinning" front (which I take to mean effacement). She doesn't give me a number for that, and I haven't asked for one--why torture myself? The baby has still not dropped. He's too busy working a number on my nerves (I think this is only the beginning of that....). She said next week we can start discussing my options if he still looks like he's not going anywhere.

In other news, I actually lost weight this week. I may just manage to stay under 200 lbs. It'll be only a smidge under, but hey, every triumph must be celebrated.

This week is my first week off of work. I've been knitting like a fiend, and not doing much else. I feel a little guilty, because there's still a lot to do around the house, and I've just been sitting around twiddling my thumbs. On the bright side, this baby's going to be late, so I still have time.

Yesterday, instead of cleaning the basement or doing laundry, I baked these, for a neighbor who helped us with a little toilet leak issue we were having:

They are green tea shortbread, and black sesame shortbread. These are the extras I saved for us :-). The ones we gave the neighbor were a little fancier: I spread the bottoms of some of them with white chocolate, and some with dark chocolate, and left others plain. I really, really like the black sesame ones: not too sweet and very sesame-y (if you like sesame). The green tea ones are OK--I think the problem is that I used sweetened matcha (which is what I could find) and so the cookies are a little sweeter than I'd like and you can't really taste the bitterness of the matcha. Next time I will reduce the amount of sugar.

I've also done some knitting for other people's babies:

My third Baby Surprise Jacket. I love this pattern, have I mentioned? Fun, fast, cute. This is for a baby who's about ten months old, but I used Debbie Mumm Traditions yarn, which has a gauge of 4.5 stitches per inch, so the finished jacket is a good size, I think. I used Jemima Puddle-Duck buttons :-).

I hated the yarn, by the way. It's mostly acrylic, and I hate acrylic, but I talked myself into it because the colors, especially this yellow, were beautiful. It's a loosely spun yarn that looks a lot like Noro, but a lot softer. But as soon as I got it on my needles, it had that nasty squeakiness that acrylic yarns have. Hate that. Plus, as I've mentioned before, it threw up a knot in the last row, which just pissed me off. I know, I got through two skeins without a knot, but the inconvenience of that one knot just soured me on the whole thing.

This is a Topaz, for a neighbor who is expecting a daughter one month after me. Knit in a skein of Blue Sky Dyed Cotton (red) I had leftover in my stash, and a bit of Manos del Uruguay Stria (blue) I bought for the purpose. The Stria was not a good match for the Blue Sky--it's a lot thinner, for one thing, which is why I decided to skip the accent on the shoulders--I thought the gauge in Stria would be too far off. I also don't really like the bumpy texture of the Stria, which makes your stitches look kind of uneven. And the fair-isle style border was a pain in the butt. This was my first real try at stranded knitting, and boy, I wasn't very happy with it. It was really hard to get the tension right, and I hated the way the yarns got all tangled up. My dreams of someday making a full-on fair isle sweater have suffered a setback!

Fortunately, since Topaz is knit at gauge of 4 stitches per inch, this little dress took just one day to do. And I think it turned out nicely, despite my frustrations with it.

OK, that's enough updates, at least on knitting, for now. I was thinking this morning, you know how on police procedurals the cops seize the suspect's computer and go through all the files to find evidence? It occurred to me that anyone who did that to my computer would be profoundly bored.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


So after all the baby knitting, I decided to knit something else:

These are Sunday Swing socks from I knit them out of Pagewood Farm's Denali sock yarn in "Fabulous Fall," on size 2 needles. They were a quick knit, about nine days, on and off, which is what I love about socks. I knit them for my sister-in-law for Christmas, so I am feeling quite proud of myself for getting a jump on Christmas presents in September :-).

Th only mods I made were to make the socks symmetrical instead of identical, because I like them that way. I simply twisted the rib on the cuff for the second sock the other way, then mirror-imaged the stitch pattern. It worked out really nicely, and I think the pattern does indeed show off the handpainted yarn very well. Of course, my sister-in-law lives in Florida, so I don't know that she'll have much use for wool socks, but there you are :-).

I'm thinking of tackling a scarf for another sister-in-law next. Hey, I've got time on my hands right now--I feel sort of restless, like all I am doing is waiting for this baby to arrive, and I can't do much while I am waiting. So.....knitting. I'm also in the middle of a pair of socks for me, but am stalled because I think I need to frog what I've done (about 2/3 of the first sock--I'm past the heel turn) and make a bigger size. I am hesitating only because I know my feet and ankles are swollen, but I don't think they're swollen that much. The decision may have to wait until after the baby's born, drat it. How long does it take your feet to de-swell?

17 Days

Thanks for all the encouragement, guys! I am avoiding the scale and my sweetie and I are getting ready for the baby. Over the long weekend, we did a lot!

Among the many, many things we put together, the bouncer:

We made more progress on setting up the room:

I am particularly fond of this:

We had had the crib and changing table previously, but we still had piles of things that had nowhere to go, and so were scattered around the room in boxes and bags. With this lovely little bookcase from IKEA, we've got it all off the floor. I have no idea how long it will last once the baby is here, but hey, for now it's a marvel of organization.

We were on our feet a lot over the weekend, and my hips, legs and feet were killing me. It was really good to get some things done, though--we also did a lot around the house that wasn't directly related to the baby. We've never really fully unpacked/organized/set up house in the year we've lived here, so we're trying to get some of it done (finally!) before relatives descend.

Friday is my last day of work--whee!!! We'll see what I can get done once I am home all day. I suspect that I will feel pretty happy if I manage to get out of bed each day (not because I am so sleepy, but because it's literally difficult to heave myself out! :-)

Monday, August 31, 2009

26 Days

26 days 'til my due date. I can't wait. Every week I feel noticeably huger than the previous week. Today as I was sitting at work, my back was tired the whole day. I know lots of women have bad back pain during pregnancy, and I should count my blessings that I haven't had any up until now, but boy, was it exhausting. It's 8:10 right now, and I really, really want to go to bed.

I think I am going to top 200 lbs by the end of this. I can't even express how much this depresses me. After everything I did a few years ago to lose weight I had carried around my whole life, here I am bigger than I ever imagined I could ever be. The thought of having to do it again, eat salad for lunch every damned day for a year again, makes me want to cry.

Anyway, I went to the doctor today. Since I am now in my 37th week, she checked my cervix. Apparently it is softening, is halfway thinned, and 1 cm dilated. When I asked what this meant, she said it reduces the chance that I will be late, but does not by any means eliminate that chance. She says most first babies are late, so I should plan for that, and that way if he comes early, I will be pleasantly surprised. SIGH.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our kid is going to be a math whiz

So, we have been watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? which is currently running again in prime time, with Regis as the host. Every night they use the last five minutes for some celebrity to come on, answer one question, and win $50,000 for their charity. Two nights ago, the celebrity was Patricia Heaton, and her question was this:

If one Euro equals $1.50, how much does 5 Euros equal:

a) 30 quarters
b) 70 nickels
c) 50 dimes
d) 90 pennies

Patricia Heaton freaked out. She moaned "I'm no good at math!" She whined and cried. She didn't even try, before deciding to use a lifeline to call her husband so that he could answer the question. They called, he had 30 seconds to hear her read the question and to answer it. Look at the question again: are you surprised that after she got through reading it, he asked her to read it again? He didn't answer in time. She was on her own. She moaned and moaned some more. Finally, grabbing her head like it was killing her, she managed to figure out that at $1.50 each, the 5 Euros would equal $7.50. That was as far as she could go. She moaned and cried some more. Finally Regis couldn't stand it any more, and said, "Look, how much is 90 pennies?" She wailed, "I don't know!" "How many pennies in a dollar?" "100!" "OK. So, how much is 50 dimes? How many dimes in a dollar?" "That's five dollars." "OK, 70 nickels; how many nickels in a dollar?" "That's $3.50." "OK, so the answer is....?"

When she finally got the answer right, the audience cheered.

Last night, the celebrity was Wynonna Judd. Here's her question:

If you have three shirts and four pairs of pants, how many combinations of one shirt and one pair of pants could you make?

a) 6
b) 9
c) 12
d) 16

OK, never mind that math is apparently so obscure a subject that a math question qualifies as a trivia question not once but twice in two days. What was Wynonna's response? "Oh, I'm so bad at math"! At least she didn't cry and moan like she was being killed. Regis, having been through Patricia Heaton the previous night, went straight to the coaching: "OK, you've got one shirt and four pairs of pants. Then you have another shirt, and four pairs of pants...?" Wynonna was having none of it; she called Aunt Margaret. Aunt Margaret, thank goodness, got it right in 30 seconds. Sheesh.

Watching this made me so angry. Seriously, what is wrong with these people? Shall I say, what is wrong with these women? I remember the uproar over the Barbie that said, "I hate math!" but this is just as bad. These were not difficult math questions, and they didn't even try. Wynonna even said, "This is why I became a musician, so other people could do the math."

I was an English major. I didn't like math. I didn't like math because it was boring, not because it was hard. But I already want our kid to be really good at math (I'd want this even if he were a girl). Math is important! And yeah, it does piss me off that people are illiterate (if I hear another person on TV use the egregious construction, "him and I", I might have to go on a Strunk & White-throwing rampage), but honestly, collapsing at the mere thought of doing math? Infuriates me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This weekend we started serious work on the nursery:

We put together the crib.

Doesn't Histrionic Dog look comfortable?
(Yes, for those of you who don't know him, Histrionic Dog is aptly named)

We also put together the changing table:

This was a nightmare: a surprisingly large number of holes were misaligned, and so we were doing a lot of forcing things together. It's funny: it's pretty decent quality in terms of materials--mostly solid wood, not particle board--but cheapie IKEA furniture goes together a lot easier. I guess they really know what they are doing, those Swedes.

We also had our Childbirth Prep class on Sunday, so we know a little bit more of what to expect. They showed film of some births, and I have to admit, I was checking out how quickly the women's stomachs went down after birth. Pretty quickly, I'm happy to say :-).

After that little bit of trauma, we went out yesterday and had a picnic. My sweetie decided to get in some kid practice....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Knitting for baby

There hasn't been a lot of knitting content (or, honestly, any content) on this blog recently. For the first several months of the pregnancy I completely lost interest in knitting. Maybe I figured I was creating a baby, what more did I need to do? :-)

Then, about June, I started getting the itch again. The first thing I knit was a baby blanket:

This is Oat Couture's "Auntie's Afghan" pattern. I fell in love with this pattern years ago, long before I even imagined I'd be having a kid of my own. At the time I thought, "Too bad I don't have someone to knit this for." Well, then.

I knit it in Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, one of my favorite cotton-based yarns (it is 20% merino). I got a deal on "unevenly dyed" skeins on eBay--you might be able to see that the color is slightly variegated, especially towards the edges. I actually like this, because a totally solid color can be a bit overbearing. Cotton Fleece is machine washable, and the merino gives it just a smidge of fuzzy spring that keeps the knitting pleasant (I find pure cotton to be a bit tough on my hands) and makes the finished product a little cuddlier.

The only modification I made was to make it smaller than the pattern calls for; I started the border when each side was 95 stitches instead of 111. I did this for a few reasons: I was mighty sick of the acres of stockinette; I thought the blanket was already big enough (I ended up at 32" square, which I think is a perfect size); and I was a little concerned about running out of yarn (as it turned out, this fear was completely unfounded). I ended up using a little less than four skeins.

After finishing this (in three weeks, which has to be some sort of record), I immediately cast on yet another Baby Surprise Jacket, which I have finished knitting but haven't bound off or sewn up--I became irritated by the yarn in the last two rows, so I threw it down in disgust. Seriously, after getting through the whole thing without any knots, it threw up a knot in the last row, and I think I have to tink back, cut out the knot, and refinish it, and that has me so disgusted I've put it down. So, no pictures just yet.

After I threw down the Baby Surprise Jacket, I cast on the for the previously mentioned Stella Pixie Hat. The knitting on this is finished, I just have to sew the neckband onto the hat. I hate seaming, so I've put this one down, too. I have a real problem with finishing things :-). That one should be done this weekend, though.

What next? I'm thinking of a sweater for myself, even though I have no idea what size I am going to be (I measured myself this morning: my boobs are 4" bigger than they were when I got pregnant. So are my hips. Let's not talk about my waist). I've got a big, messy project in mind, where I am going to mash together a bunch of ideas and patterns. This should keep me occupied until I actually give birth. Six weeks to go (though my sweetie is convinced it will be only five weeks, since that would kind of inconvenient for him, work-wise)!

The fruits of our labor

My sweetie and I planted a small garden this year. Naturally, the hottest, driest year Seattle has had ever. SIGH. Still, we're pretty happy with our results: we didn't exactly devote a lot of attention to the plants (watering them was about all we did) and we have vegetables! See?

So we have Anaheim peppers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and Cherokee Purple tomatoes. The Cherokee Purples are an heirloom variety that's really sweet--I really like them. Unfortunately the plants set one bunch of tomatoes, then the tops of the plants shriveled and refused to grow any further, so we won't get a lot of tomatoes from them. But after all, there are only two of us, so how many tomatoes do we really need?

Of course, once I took the above photo (styled by my sweetie), he informed me that my picture was not sufficiently arty. So, he took over the camera. I present Still Lifes with Vegetables:

(All pictures are better with coffee in them)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is the use of a blog without pictures or conversations?

So a couple weeks ago, during the hottest heat wave on record in Seattle and all over the Pacific Northwest, my sweetie and I went to Mount St Helens.

It wasn't too bad: we had an air-conditioned car and an air-conditioned hotel room. And, as someone who finds volcanoes endlessly fascinating, I was not about to let 90-degree heat stop me from doing a little hiking.

Although the 361 steps up to Windy Ridge did almost defeat me....

Believe it or not, Mt St Helens erupted 29 years ago. Yes, you're that old. The devastation is still pretty impressive to behold (click on the pictures for a better view of the matchsticks formerly known as trees). Forest does take a heck of a long time to grow back.

Check out the dead trees still floating on the surface of Spirit Lake. Which, by the way, is 200 feet higher than it was before the eruption: the debris from the volcano raised the floor of the valley and the lake by that much. See how the hills seem to end kind of abruptly in the lake, no shore or anything? Yeah: the shore is 200 feet down. It's crazy.

And for those of you inexplicably clamoring for pictures of "the bump" (god knows why).....

Yeah, there it is. Now stop asking me!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Weird dream

Supposedly being pregnant give you weird, vivid dreams. Last night I had a rather hilarious one.

I used to work in publishing, and even though it's been a year and a half (that long?) since I quit, I still miss it sometimes. My job involved a little traveling and a lot of books, and even though I eventually became tired of books, I still kind of miss books. (This make no sense, I know. It's hard to explain.)

Anyway, my job was selling foreign rights to our books, and this sometimes included selling UK rights. This can be tricky, especially as the world economy becomes more and more borderless, because selling the rights to a UK publisher to publish our books means that somewhere in Asia both copies of the book will one day be on sale, and we will be in direct competition with our own book, if you see what I mean.

So, in my dream, I was back working in publishing. But the office was nothing like the corporate offices I knew; it was in an old building with lots of wood and a garret, like you see in movies about academics in New England, and somehow we were a scrappy little company instead of a giant conglomerate. We had a success, a book about John F Kennedy, to which I sold UK rights before we knew it would be such a big success. Since in my dream we were a scrappy company, this was our first big success, and it was really important that we not let anything kill it. Then--horrors!--the UK publisher informed us that they were planning to publish a cheap hardcover version for the international market. Visions of lost sales in Asia were causing a panic. A young man in a sweater vest and glasses (who was either the editor, the publisher, or the legal dept, or possibly all three, since we were a scrappy little company) and I were frantically figuring out what we could do about it, if there was any way we could stop them, when suddenly, it hit me. I didn't think I had sold them the right to publish in hardcover.

(I know this realization doesn't mean much to non-publishing types, but bear with me)

The young man began frantically looking for our contract with the UK house. It was not neatly in a file, it was in a scattering of papers on the floor. He was on his knees, rifling through the papers; the contract was not stapled, so he kept whipping out individual pages, none of which were the right one. The suspense was unbearable. Finally he pulls out a page, and I know the information we need is on the other side of the page. I yell, "Turn it over! Turn it over!"

He does, and lo and behold: the line for hardcover rights is crossed out.

Relief is instantaneous. We start dancing around our garret office, and I yell,

"In your face, Random House! In your face!"

OK, maybe you had to be there :-).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bitch 'n' Moan

It is HOT.  Seattle is in the midst of a heat wave.  Today it is supposed to hit 101 degrees, which will make it the hottest day ever.  Last night the low was 70 degrees, which, believe it or not, was the hottest night ever.  That's right, there had never previously been a single night since they started recording these things that it did not fall below 70 degrees.  By the end of the week, we may well have broken the record of five consecutive days of 90+ degree heat.  (Yes, Seattle has never had six days in a row of 90+ heat.)  To top it all off, it is unusually humid.  Not as bad as NYC in August, to be sure, but it's bad.

Since Seattle's usual July average temperature is 75 or so, very few houses have air conditioning.  This includes our house.  Yesterday when I came home from work, it was 88 degrees in the house.  It was also 88 degrees outside (evening temp, down from 97).  Yesterday at work the air conditioning was not working well, and downstairs there is never any air conditioning at all.  The woman whose office contains the computer servers measured her office temp at 98 degrees.  The servers actually sent her a warning message saying they were too hot and she'd better damned well do something about it.

I am off today, and I spent the morning running errands, then  spent the better part of the afternoon shopping for no reason other than that stores are cool.  Last night I slept on the recliner in the basement.  I have never been great with the heat, but being pregnant and hot is just about as bad as it gets, really.  Oh yeah: I've had a headache for the last week, too, probably from the heat.

All I have to say is that, when I moved here, people told me it did not get hot in the summer, and that it did not snow in the winter.  Seattlites are really big fat liars.

One of the errands I had to run this morning was a visit to the lab to have a Glucola three-hour test.  I had to have blood drawn four times, once when  I arrived, then once every hour for three hours.  My veins are notoriously hard to find: every time I have blood drawn, the person doing it comments on it.  Techs frequently have trouble, but oddly enough, doctors never miss (I don't know why this should seem odd, since they're doctors, but I guess I imagine they do not draw blood as often as techs and so might be less practiced).  My favorite was the guy at Student Health when I was in grad school who asked, "Would you mind if I missed?"  Um, yeah, dude.  I'd mind.  He called in a nurse, who called in a doctor, who asked, "Did you bring your veins today?"  He didn't miss, though.

Anyway, for four blood samples this morning, I got stuck seven times.  I thought she was going for the full eight, but on the last one she finally managed to hit the vein on the first try.  Both arms have multiple marks.  I feel like a junkie.

Anyway, I am going to go hide n the basement now.  If I can stand to move (because I still sweat in the basement, even though it is much cooler down there), I will continue knitting the Stella Pixie Hat which I began during my three-hour wait in the lab this morning.  If I can't move, I will sleep.  Ugh.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Random blog post

I'm awake when I want to be asleep. Must learn to control rage.

This is not what I am angry about, but I thought I'd ask: does anyone think those Prius commercials, the ones where people take the place of nature, are kind of disturbing? They remind me of that old Star Trek episode where Kirk is trapped on a model of the Enterprise with a woman who wants to catch germs from him so she can infect her planet and let some people die. At some point you get a glimpse out the window and the people, dressed in tight bodysuits, are packed in cheek by jowl with this kind of soulless misery on their faces. That's what I think of when I see the Prius commercials: not harmony between man, machine and nature, or whatever it is they're spouting, but nature so completely overrun by people that there is no nature left.

Not exactly the message a commercial for a hybrid car is supposed to be giving me, I suspect.

Friday, July 03, 2009

I'm not so sure about this parenting thing

So, after a long silence, I’m back. I have been feeling much better, although I am now getting to the point where I feel huge, so the period of comfort was fleeting.

I have come through my company’s busy season in one piece. We do overnight high school graduation parties, so June is crazy busy. Last year I worked the parties themselves; this year, because I didn’t think I could be on my feet all night, instead I stayed in the office overnight and manned the phones—a sort of nerve center of operations for nights when we had multiple parties going on. I worked 11 overnight shifts in a row, and boy, was my sleep schedule messed up!

Prior to the graduation season, it loomed like a huge monolith on the horizon and I could not see past it. Now that I am on the other side, I am thinking about September, when the baby is due. As I start to have trouble getting out of bed each morning (both literally—who knew sitting up was such a chore?—and figuratively—I could sleep all day if I didn’t have to get to work) the baby is making his presence known at every moment.

Oh yes, “his.” It’s a boy. I was surprised, I think because I was assuming the baby was a girl because I’m a girl. Duh.

Anyway, with the graduation season just past, I’ve been thinking about kids and what makes a successful parent. These parties are celebrations of an achievement, yes, but I don’t know that graduating from high school is the landmark it once was. Are these kids really adults now, and are their parents’ jobs really finished? Somehow, I doubt it.

We ask a few of the kids at each party to fill out evaluation forms to let us know what they thought of the party. Reading through them, I’ve been rather appalled at how few high school graduates can spell well, and how few can form complete and coherent sentences. Our boss’s 17-year-old daughter has been working in our office the past few weeks, and when she was asked to file a series of documents alphabetically in boxes, she asked for 24 separate boxes, one for each letter in the alphabet (yes, 24. Don’t ask). She had to have it explained to her several times that when you alphabetize things, each letter doesn’t need to have its own box; you can start with A and keep going though B and C until you run out of room in the first box, then start a new box. And it is not the first time I’ve heard of a teenager being unaware that one continues alphabetizing beyond the first letter of a word. That is, Aaron comes before Abel, and it’s not enough to just throw all the A’s in one spot willy-nilly.

All of this had me very down. I came home and said to my sweetie that I expected our son to be able to write whole sentences without spelling errors, and that he had better know how to alphabetize by the time he hits junior high, much less by the time he’s graduating from high school. I fretted, “What if our kid is stupid and I don’t like him because of that?” It’s one of my faults that I have a very low tolerance for stupidity, and though I’ve worked on it, I don’t know how I’d react if my kid were stupid.

My sweetie looked at me like I was nuts (he often does) and suggested that perhaps, at least on the subject of spelling and alphabetizing, we as parents might have a little bit of influence in the matter. Which I would take comfort in, except that I seriously doubt that any of these kids’ parents set out to make sure their kids didn’t know there are 26 letters in the alphabet.

So, what happened? I mean, I don’t know how much my parents taught me about these things. I know they emphasized the importance of school, and that I should get good grades. But other than trying to teach me the multiplication tables a grade early at home, I don’t recall them really actively helping me with school work or teaching me anything in particular. I definitely learned to alphabetize at school—I can remember it. I assume my boss’s daughter did, too: why didn’t she retain it?

On the other hand, my parents, who both learned English in their teens, never say “lay down” when they mean “lie down,” never say “he and I” (or, worse, “him and I”) when it should be “him and me,” write in complete sentences with good spelling and never confuse “it’s” and “its.” So maybe there’s something to leading by example.

Friends tell me that my sweetie and I will be good parents. But I don’t think anyone plans to be a bad parent, so I want to know: how can you tell? I don’t think my parents were great parents, but they weren’t bad parents. I think they muddled through. I think a lot of parents muddle through. They do the best they can. And school stuff is relatively easy to measure; if I wanted to be obsessive, I could play my son music in the womb, teach him sign language at age one, grill him with flash cards at age three, enroll him in five hundred programs by age six that will teach him three languages, how to do geometry proofs and the basic principles of chemistry by age ten. I am fairly sure that with a little effort I could sit at his high school graduation confident that he knows how to alphabetize.

But: will he know how to think? Will he know how to be compassionate? Will he know how to work hard? Will he know the world doesn't owe him anything?

Hah. Let me fret for now about what I will do if he's stupid. We'll worry next week about what I will do if he's lazy, narcissistic, mean, or downright evil.

Monday, April 13, 2009

In hiding

OK, so, I have been in hiding. I haven't felt much like blogging, or emailing anyone, or talking on the phone, or being a generally socially bearable person. It's hard to go to work. I suspect I am a little depressed.

Why, you might ask?

I'm pregnant.

With that intro, it might be a surprise to hear that this was planned, and I really wanted it. Heck, I still want it--we always knew we wanted kids, and I'm grateful, given how old I am, that it was relatively easy to get pregnant. And so far, things seem to be progressing well.

What I wasn't prepared for was the feeling lousy. For about six to eight weeks there, I felt lousy 24 hours a day, every single day. For the last two or three weeks (I just finished my 16th week), I've been feeling better, but it's precarious: if I eat the wrong thing, or, worse, fail to eat something, I'm back to feeling terrible.

Of course I've heard women complain about feeling lousy during pregnancy. I thought I was prepared for that. But what I wasn't prepared for was the mental and emotional strain of feeling lousy. I don't enjoy being sick--I'm very impatient with it--and feeling lousy every minute of every day for weeks on end tried my patience pretty much to the breaking point. I'm amazed by how little I care to do anything: I don't want to cook or eat (eating doesn't make me nauseated, I just don't feel like eating), I'm not interested in blogging or knitting or working. I just want to sleep all the time, because when I'm sleeping, I don't feel lousy. I am a total wimp.

On top of it, I feel guilty: after all, I'm not barfing fifty times a day, like some women I hear about. I'm not in pain. I just...don't feel 100%. Big, fat, hairy deal. I'm disgusted and embarrassed by how much this has bothered me. I have friends who are struggling with cancer and parents dying, and I'm whining about a little intestinal trouble. I have a sweet, wonderful husband who has made so many accommodations for me and has barely complained that I hardly ever cook any more, I never clean, and I just lie about and don't want to do anything. In fact, a couple weeks ago he actually thanked me for just being quiet and low-energy, and not turning into a demanding unreasonable bitch from hell, which friends of his have said pregnant women generally do. I felt awful that I get points for not being nasty, when actually I think I've been pretty pathetic and letting him/making him do all the work of our marriage.

I commented to people at work that I feel cranky all the time, and they claim that they haven't noticed. In fact, compared to the *last* pregnant woman they had here, I am apparently keeping up my efficiency quite well, even though I feel like I'm working in a fog and taking bathroom breaks every five minutes.

So, maybe the patheticness has been all in my head. I'm not sure how to get out of it, but it's not especially fun. Hopefully if the weather starts to improve I will feel better: last week there were actually some sunny, warmish days, and I was amazed at how much better I felt.

I am in hiding, or maybe it's hibernation. But hopefully I'll be coming out soon.